Friday, February 3, 2012

One Kiss On The Lips

One look at the cover art for A Seductive Kiss, the latest release by Francis Ray, and I was hooked.  I mean, just look at it.  It's perfect.  A hunky, well-dressed (::swoon::), guy sweeping a woman offer her feet in, presumably, Central Park.  So yeah, kudos to the art department at St. Martin's.  As for the story and the execution of it?  Read on....

Dianna Harrington has grown up in the family business.  While her parents couldn't be bothered with her, her doting grandfather believed in her.  For several years she's been know as "The Face" - the model behind the House of Harrington's successful "D" fashion line.  However, even with her success, she's one lonely woman.  Her parents?  Narcissists.  Her love life?  Dead on arrival.  Her friends?  Just a few - one of whom is Alex Stewart.  But you know what?  Dianna is tired of being alone.  And as loathe as she is to jeopardize the friendship, she's ready to explore the attraction she feels for Alex.

Alex grew up with Dianna and has pined after her for years.  However, between his law career, her jet-setting lifestyle, and not wanting to jack up their friendship - he hasn't pursued her.  Then she propositions him!  Well, who is he to refuse a lovely lady in distress?  But will their newly-minted relationship be able to survive the turmoil that's lurking just around the corner for Dianna?

OK, this story has one of my absolute favorite themes - friends-to-lovers.  To sweeten the deal, Alex and Dianna grew up together.  So you have that whole unrequited love thing tossed in for good measure.  Unfortunately, it doesn't sing for me here.  It took me a while, and several chapters, to figure out why I wasn't totally enthralled with this romance, but figure it out I eventually did.  There's no tension.  I mean, none.  Once Dianna and Alex fall into bed, there's really nothing threatening to tear them apart.  Dianna sort of thinks there is, but frankly, she's an idiot.  I mean, Alex is pretty much worshiping at the altar of Dianna from the get-go, and any "obstacles" she thinks are in the way are honestly psychosomatic.

The lack of tension was bothersome enough that I thought I was going to have to slog my way through the final half of this book, but that's when the author introduces some outside conflict.  This conflict pretty much pushes Dianna's back up against a wall, and she needs to find her big girl panties.  While I had a really hard time sympathizing with her for her total lack of rainy day preparation (Seriously girl?  I mean, like, seriously?!), it was fun to read about her "growing up."  I'm a very heroine-centric romance reader, so literally having a "heroine's journey" blatantly fall in my lap is a bit like cat nip for me.  I mean, I knew where this aspect of the story was going, but I didn't care.  I love reading about heroines "finding themselves" and "find herself" Dianna does.  Plus, she gets the guy. 

Readers should expect to run into a fair amount of series-itis here.  I "get" that publishers and authors love to write series because if you can hook readers, you can hook them into buying multiple books.  The problem is the longer a series runs, the harder it is to snag new readers.  While this is technically the first book in a trilogy, it's tied into Ray's long-running Grayson Family series.  So yeah, we have a number of secondary characters who get name-dropped and don't really add anything to this story.  Now that said?  The two guys on deck for the other books in this trilogy?  Along with the women they'll be paired up with?  Hubba, hubba.

Lord help me, I'm curious.

Why yes, I am aware this makes me part of the problem.

So yeah, this wasn't the greatest book I've ever read.  I had issues.  But I'm still interested enough to read the next two books featuring Alex's BFFs.   People, this is why we keep getting series.  But glass houses and all that....

Final Grade = C+


nath said...

I find that St. Martin's Press art department consistently does a good job with covers. They mix and up well and it seems to fit the story as well! So really kudos to them indeed.

It's a bit too bad there wasn't enough tension between Dianna and Alex. It also seems to me Dianna's level of maturity was also in question ^_^;

willaful said...

"Why yes, I am aware this makes me part of the problem"

Oh, tell me about it. I got hooked by the sequel bait even in books I didn't like. WTF is up with that?

Hilcia said...

Okay, sweet... even with the problems you had, it sounds like in the end the heroine somehow redeemed herself (in your eyes). I love these tropes too, so I'll look out for this trilogy.

PS: When it comes to contemporary romances, I prefer stand-alone books, but I do like trilogies. So as long as it's not a series that goes on forever and ever, I'm willing to give them a try.

Wendy said...

Nath: I was frustrated because her professional life literally crumbles and she has ZERO safety net. I mean, like....NONE. It was a little hard for me to sympathize with her on that score.

Willaful: LOL! I'm not quite that bad - but anything that registers OK or higher? I'm sunk. I tend to get caught up in the sequel-baiting. Plus the hero's two friends? Suitably hunky.

Hilcia: This trilogy is spun-off from a longer running series, but essentially? Yeah, it's a trilogy. You've got three hunky BFFs so.....three books.